Assessment Report of
Institutional Accreditation of
Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu
Rajah Serfoji Government College, Thanjavur, Tamil Nadu, volunteered to be assessed by the National Assessment and Accreditation Council (NAAC), Bangalore, and submitted a self-study report during December 1999. The Peer Team was constituted by NAAC to visit the institution and validate the self-study report. The Peer Team consisting of Dr. Shakuntala Katre, Professor, department of zoology, Bangalore University, Bangalore, as Chairperson, Dr. R. Seshadri Naidu, Director, Academic Staff College, S.V.University, Tirupathi and Dr. D.S. Devaraj Urs, Professor, Institute of Development Studies, University of Mysore, Mysore as members, visited the institution for two days, on 14th and 15th February 2000.
As early as in 1954, a group of committed non-officials and the then Rotary Club of Thanjavur came together and formed the Thanjavur College Committee to start the Thanjavur college. The committee managed the college for a short while, after its inception. The college was renamed “The Rajah Serfoji College”, Thanjavur in 1955, after the Rajah who was a highly respected combination of a scholar, a linguist and a patron of arts and science.
Today, the Rajah Serfoji Government College (RSGC) is a co-education college affiliated to the Bharathidasan University, Tiruchirapalli. The College is situated in an urban location of Thanjavur, on a vast campus of 44 acres. The college is recognized under the 2f and 12b of the University Grants Commission, New Delhi.
The RSGC has eleven departments - six science (mathematics, physics, chemistry, zoology, botany and statistics), two humanities (economics and history), two languages (Tamil and English) and one commerce. The total student strength is 1710(UG) and 179(PG). The strength of the teaching faculty is 107 and that of the non-teaching faculty is 59(21 technical and 38 administrative). The institution essentially caters for the student community in and around Thanjavur and has been providing higher education to a large number of underprivileged students who come from the state of Tamil Nadu. many of whom are still first generation students seeking graduation.
The Peer Team members carefully perused and analyzed the self-study report of the institution and during the two-day visit to the institution, visited all the departments and facilities of the RSGC. The Peer Team also gathered additional information on the performance of the institution through in-depth interactions with the various constituents of the college viz. Staff Council members, Principal, teaching staff and non-teaching staff and with other members of the college community- present and past pupils of the college and parents. Based on a summative analysis of the academic standing of the college as gathered from these interactions, and perusing relevant and additional documents gathered from the institution during the Peer Team visit, the members wish to record the following criterionwise analysis:
Criterion I: Curricular Aspects
As a traditional college affiliated to the Bharathidasan University and coming under the restrictive government setup, the RSGC follows the syllabi as prescribed by the university from time to time. There is hardly any scope for the institution to either restructure its courses or frame any changes in its syllabi, except through the participation of its senior staff members as members of the Boards of Studies of their respective subjects. At present, the college offers a total of eleven undergraduate programme options - three programmes in Bachelor of Arts (Regular-English literature and vocational Communicative English, Economics), five programmes in Bachelor of Science (Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry, Zoology and Statistics) and one programme in Bachelor of Commerce, with two allied subjects of botany and history.
While the BA and B.Sc. courses are offered in bilingual media for separate streams of students (Tamil and English Medium), B.Com is offered as both, a day as well as an evening course in the English medium only. The college also offers four post-graduate courses - Master of Arts in economics, Master of Science in mathematics, physics and chemistry. The PG courses are offered only in the English medium.
The college encourages its teachers to design a teaching plan at the commencement of the semester session, to be prepared through the guidance of the respective Heads of Departments in departmental faculty meetings. The syllabi are unitised and the college does have a formal monitoring both through frequent reviews and through mid-course corrective measures.
The overall dropout rate of the last two batches of UG students is 33% and that of the postgraduate students is 39.5%. The ratio of teaching to non-teaching staff is 107:59. In spite of the constraints to academic progress caused by the affiliating system, innovation may be tried in areas where such progress can be made.
The college does not have the freedom to introduce innovative, interdisciplinary and diversified courses. Therefore, new courses are also not initiated. Feedback from various sections of the college and society is not being formally collected. The college should seriously consider to revise the courses and restructure them with the permission of the Government, to meet the requirements of the society in general and students in particular. The curriculum should promote communication skills and higher intellectual skills among students, through participatory learning. This requires a process of integrating learning activities such as fieldwork, projects, internship and community-oriented activities. The new millenium awaits accelerated learning and creative thinking, hence, information technology may be introduced into the curriculum. Short duration programmes like certificate and diploma courses of vocational relevance may be introduced on a self-financing basis. The curriculum has to be relevant and dynamic to promote the talents of the students. The college has submitted proposals for autonomy and it should endeavor to diversify the courses soon after the proposal materializes, in order to achieve the goals of higher education.
As at present, there is no formal mechanism to obtain any feedback from academic peers or from neighbouring academia or from industrial organisations. Therefore, the college does not have any linkages either with industries or with other academic institutions in its neighbourhood.
Criterion II: Teaching-learning and Evaluation
The college does not admit its students through a pre-admission test and the assessment of students for admission is purely based on merit and as per the governmental directions. Subsequent assessment of students during the course work is through monthly tests and model examinations. Remedial classes are conducted for the minority and/ or educationally backward students. Integration of Communicative English in the syllabus and a component of English literature in the syllabus is meant to provide the required enrichment courses. Apart from these and the usual tutorial-ward system as per the government directions, there are no additional bridge/remedial courses. Advanced learners are encouraged by teachers to fare better in University examinations, through personal advice and motivation. There is no particular special mechanism to promote the advanced learners.
Information about the monthly tests, model examinations and other evaluation methods are orally communicated to the students each year, during the meeting of the freshers and since 1984 the system of evaluation in practice is terminal and summative although the UG and PG courses are offered as semester programmes. The college conducts monthly tests and model exams to prepare the students for the end examinations.
Being a Government institution, the recruitment of the teachers is by the State Government, through the Teacher Recruitment Board. Since the college also does not have the freedom and resources to appoint and pay temporary teachers on ad hoc basis, at times, there are problems of teaching load to be additionally borne by existing teachers in the eventuality of transfer of their peers, during the academic term.
In the last few years, 28 teachers have participated in National seminars/conferences, one at the International level, and five as resource persons. The self-appraisal reports from teachers are collected as per the directions of the DCE and communicated to him. Apart from this there are no other methods adopted by the institution for performance appraisal of the teachers. Some postgraduate departments have conducted seminars for students and in the past, 25 teachers have had the benefit of attending subject refresher/orientation courses in the last two years.
The pass percentage at both the UG Tamil medium (36%) and UG English medium (34%) are low while that at the PG is quite high (82%). The low percentage passes at UG are believed to be due to the failures in the English language rather than in the core subjects.
Fifteen teachers possess Ph.D. degrees and 76 have acquired M. Phil. degrees. Most of them have participated in Orientation/Refresher Courses organized by the ASCs to improve their professional competence. The teachers of economics and chemistry have written several books useful to the students. The post-graduate departments have organized five seminars, during the last three years. The lecture method is supplemented by practical classes, discussions and seminars. PG students carry out project work and appear for a viva-voce examination. The teaching-learning process should be strengthened through innovative approaches and integration of new technology. The teachers may be encouraged to develop national and international linkages for improving teaching-learning further. Teacher performance appraisal should be introduced as early as possible. The student feedback on teaching should be made formal. Innovative and progressive teachers should be suitably rewarded and encouraged. The faculty members are adequately qualified to teach the courses. The teachers under the supervision of the Head of Department prepare the teaching plans. 30 present teachers are alumni of the college and have a sense of belonging to teach effectively.
Conduct of practical classes, discussions and participation in subject seminars are some practices to complement the lecture method of teaching. There are no facilities for the preparation of audio-visuals and /or other teaching aids nor is there a centralized media facility. Therefore, the faculty have been simply following the "class-room, black-board teaching culture".
Some of the senior teachers (one from history, the other from economics and the librarian) have received state level recognition for their extension activities and valuable personal contribution.
Criterion III: Research, Consultancy and Extension
The PG department of physics is recognised as a research department and the chemistry department has also applied for recognition to guide research. 30% of the faculty are engaged in research activities. Three minor research projects have been undertaken. Four teachers got Ph.D. degrees during the last 3 years. 10 teachers have registered for research programmes on part-time basis. In all, the teachers have published over 20 research papers in national and international journals. One teacher in Chemistry has collaborative research activity with an Italian university. The teachers are given orientation in preparing research papers for publication. The Department of physics has a crystal growth center as part of its research activity.
A teacher with additional charge supervises the extension activities of the college. Social Work and literacy activities are the broad areas of extension. The Youth Red Cross Club organizes blood donation camps. The students of mathematics were involved in giving free tuition to students of orphanage home at Thanjavur. The faculty and students of M.Sc. chemistry have organized a camp in a village to create awareness on food adulteration and iodine deficiency. The extension activities undertaken by the Librarian and the HoD of mathematics on meditation and yoga and helping the poor are worth mentioning. The physics department has offered help to the telecom department to locate faults in the cable system.
It is suggested that all the PG departments should enter into socially-relevant research activities at least at the local level. As there is no financial support for research in the college, the teachers should try to seek funds from UGC, DST, CSIR and other agencies through minor and major research projects. The PG departments should also extend Consultancy to meet the local needs. The extension activities must be diversified with the involvement of the students to develop their interest and overall personality. The extension activities should be carried out regularly with the help of non-governmental organisations and voluntary organisations to ameliorate the slum dwellers and poor people of the area.
Criterion IV: Infrastructure and Learning Resources
The college has a vast campus of 44 acres on the fringe of the city but only 20 per cent of the area has been occupied by buildings, housing the different departments and facilities. The college entirely depends upon government funds not only for the creation of new infrastructure but also for its maintenance. The infrastructure available is adequate to meet the current curricular and extra curricular activities. But attention has to be paid to better maintenance. The college has been trying to optimize the use of infrastructure by conducting an evening college and extending facilities for the conduct of distance education programmes. Similarly, other agencies are also encouraged to utilise the premises for carrying out academic activities. The Peer Team observed that the campus that is cleaned with the help of NSS needs to be further improved. The surroundings should be improved and greenery should be developed. It is appreciable that the college has sought the help of the Alumni Association for providing tree guards and such efforts may be stepped up.
The college maintains a central library and departmental libraries manned by the teaching faculty. The books are procured by the qualified librarian with the help of the Advisory Committee and they are given to the departments for better access and use. It was seen that resources available for procurement of books is declining. Multiple copies of text books may be provided for the library. The college should explore the possibilities of mobilising additional resources to equip the library and also for modernisation of the same. It is important that at least some core journals are subscribed for, particularly in the departments offering PG courses. The available Internet facilities should be made accessible to all the faculty and students. Audio-video facilities may be procured for the benefit of students and staff. Computer-aided learning packages including language software may be made available. Laboratory facilities need improvement particularly in departments offering PG courses.
Five departments have computer facilities and they are not adequate. The college should embark on a computer literacy programme vigorously and for that purpose a separate computer center may be set up and gradually upgraded. This may be made easily accessible to students, faculty and non-teaching staff also. It may be possible to get some software packages like SPSS for demonstration to the students.
Every year medical inspection is carried out for all the first year students. A separate health centre, career guidance cell, grievance cell and a women's cell may be developed in due course.
The college has adequate infrastructure for sports and physical education. All the necessary equipments are made available and it is heartening to note that several students have participated in sports events organised by the college viz. inter-collegiate and inter-university tournaments. These units are well managed by two qualified teachers. Unfortunately the zeal among the students is not encouraging and additional efforts are needed to augment sports participation. The college has an auditorium which accommodates nearly 800 persons.
There are many welfare programmes which include scholarships to many students, a co-operative store supplying stationery and a canteen. The facilities in the canteen need to be improved. Special cash prizes are disbursed from the endowment funds. Teaching and administrative staff are given various loan facilities. There is also an informal grievance redressal mechanism. The Red Cross has started a novel road-risk insurance for students at a nominal premium of Rs. 1/- per year.
There are three hostels accommodating 354 students which amounts to 27 percent of the student population. Since the resident student strength has declined considerably during the recent years that infrastructure can be suitably utilised by the college.
There is a separate rest room for women students and lady staff members may also be provided better facilities.
Photocopying facility is available in the office, but it should be extended so that students and faculty can avail themselves of the facility. The NRSC building should be made available for academic activities immediately. Similarly the animal house which is under the control of the PWD should be made available for the use of the college. On the whole, it may be said that the college does not lack the basic infrastructure but a better utilisation and modernisation of the facilities would help the college activities.
The Peer Team suggests that a separate women's cell should be set up and it would be highly beneficial if a separate career guidance cell and a grievance cell are also created. The college may explore these possibilities. The internal communication system will be a help.
Several extension activities are carried out through NSS, NCC and Youth Red Cross, etc. The Committee feels that extension activities need to be strengthened and diversified to provide opportunities for better student exposure.
Criterion V: Student Support and Progression
Most of the students are drawn from the surrounding region and they are first generation learners. A good number of students from rural background are attracted to this college on account of the low-fee structure, strict adherence to the reservation policy of the government, the standard facilities available and good quality education in the area. The college has been constantly maintaining good results in PG programmes including ranks in most of the courses regularly and this is appreciable. A system of counselling by allotting students to the care of staff, for academic and personal counselling, has helped in establishing better rapport and maintenance of cordial relationships between teachers and students.
The admission policy is guided by the Bharathidasan University and reservation policy of the Government. The dropout rate is high but this is attributed to the students joining professional colleges. Most of the students get scholarships and financial assistance. The college provides annual prospectus at the time of admission.
Students have adequate facilities for pursuing their curricular, co-curricular and extracurricular activities. The college encourages students to participate in various inter-collegiate fine arts and cultural competitions.
Creation of a formal and effective feedback mechanism from students will be a great source of information for qualitative improvement of future academic and co-curricular programmes of the institution. The alumni association and PTA activities need to be strengthened as they can play a pivotal role in the development of this institution.
Criterion VI: Organisation and Management
The functioning of the college is under the control of the government and all policy decisions taken by the government are strictly adhered to. The college council co-ordinates programmes under the guidance of the Principal. The college is well managed by an efficient internal co-ordinating and monitoring system, with the active participation of faculty members through their membership in various committees. The manpower requirements are also met with adequately. The Peer Team is highly appreciative of the democratic functioning of the college and cordiality maintained in the college.
The institution has a realistic calendar that is normally followed. The college has been encouraging teachers to participate in various professional development programmes and several initiatives have been taken to further their activities. The college has a large number of experienced senior teachers committed to promote quality in education. It is appreciable that teachers have shouldered some additional responsibilities like maintaining departmental libraries and extension activities. The college accounts are properly maintained and audited by the Bursar. The administrative staff should be given opportunities to train themselves particularly in computer applications and office management.
Criterion VII: Healthy Practices
The Peer Team has observed the following healthy practices of the RSGC:
· The teaching-learning process of the institution is well-reflected especially in the university ranks as secured by the PG students.
· The "one to one teacher-student tutorial ward system" has brought about good inter-personal relationship and has benefited the overall performance of the students.
· In spite of a heavy teaching load, a good member of teachers are involved in research, extension, book-writing and publication activities.
· The curricular, co-curricular and extra-curricular activities of the institution are planned, monitored and implemented through various committees comprising the Principal and staff members.
· The institution has cordial relationships among teaching and non-teaching faculty members and any problems and grievances that have arisen at the past have been settled through amicable dialogue and discussions.
· A thrift society, a co-operative stores and other welfare machineries have been benefiting the staff in general.
· The students are also amply encouraged to excel in fine arts and cultural events.
The following positive features of the Rajah Serfoji Government College have appealed to the Peer Team members and the Team wishes to commend the institution for its efforts:
· Since 1955, the college has been striving to reach cost-effective higher education to the rural-urban mixed student populace of Thanjavur area, many of whom are first- generation learners.
· A Team of 107 teachers, thirty of whom are past pupils of the institution, are dedicated to their profession and have been held in high esteem by present students, alumni and parents, for their professional achievements and teaching expertise.
· The institution enjoys a definite reputation in the immediate society, as a facility for affordable/decent education. This is also evident in the number of university ranks secured by its pupils.
· Several alumni of the college are highly placed and some of the non-resident ones have created a web-site on the internet to publicise the service of the institution.
· Although the RSGC has been performing within the constraints of the government regulations and university restrictions, the Principal and Staff Council have progressive plans for the future development viz. seeking autonomy, diversifying the programme options and making higher education more need-based.
· Despite the fact that the faculty is loaded with teaching work, all the PG departments have potential for advancing research endeavours of good quality. They have published in reputed journals and some have also pursued research degrees.
· Students have ample opportunities for utilising co-curricular and extra-curricular facilities as provided by the institution.
· That over two-third of its students are recipients of one or the other category of scholarships (including merit scholarships) speaks of the attempts of the institution to out-reach service in the sphere of higher education.
· That most students who seek admissions hail from an essentially regional-language based pre-degree education and yet many of them have subsequently moulded themselves well into the English medium stream of higher education and are enjoying responsible social status both in the State, within India and abroad is laudable.
· The congenial relationship between the Principal, Staff Council members, non-teaching staff and a large body of the students, warranting no necessity for any formal grievance redressal cell/s is to be appreciated.
The Peer Team also wishes to place on record the following suggestions for the future benefit of the institution:
· Although many staff members are qualified to pursue research and are capable of publishing their work, a certain positive motivation is required. Perhaps, certain measures of encouragement and incentive motivation by the authorities could produce the desired results.
· The institution has a past record of highly talented sports persons and at present the vast campus area and the good sports facilities remain underutilised.
· The institution requires encouragement and freedom to diversify its curricular aspects and teaching-learning activities perhaps through autonomy.
· The parent-teacher association and the alumni association should come forward voluntarily to support the development of the institution through munificent contributions and active personal involvement of its members.
· The vast campus can be beautified through the active participation of NSS and NCC units; there is a need for planting shade trees and planned landscaping.
· Some of the buildings – the animal house which is non-functional and the non-resident house which is under the PWD at present, must be put to use by the institution immediately. Should these be made available to the college, and certain other incomplete civil works/maintenance work undertaken on a priority, the college would be greatly benefited.
· The institution should take quick and necessary steps to augment its computer facility, library automation and ensure optimum utilisation of the infrastructure through implementation of self-financing courses.
· Certain essential remedial measures must be taken to improve the level of communicative English among students, so that they are able to complete their degrees as per schedule.
· The institution should make attempts to involve the neighbouring industries and other institutions to develop meaningful interactions and linkages.
· Every department must ensure atleast a minimum extension programme of social relevance, involving the students and teachers alike.
· In due course, the RSGC should strive towards scholarship rather than mere mass-higher education amongst its wards.